George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to John Jay, 1 March 1779

To John Jay

Middle brook Mar: 1st 1779.

Dear Sir,

I have been a little surprised, that the several important pieces of intelligence lately received from Europe1 (such parts of it I mean as are circulated without reserve in Conversn) have not yet been given to the public in a manner calculated to attract the attention & impress the Minds of the people.2 As they are now propagated, they run through the Country in a variety of forms, are confounded in the common mass of general rumours, and loose a great part of their effect—It would certainly be attended with many valuable consequences, if they could be given to the people in some more authentic & pointed manner. It would assist the measures taken to restore our currency, promote the recruiting of the Army and our other Military arrangements, and give a certain spring to our affairs in general.

Congress may have particular reasons for not communicating the intelligence officially (which would certainly be the best mode, if it could be done), but if it cannot, it were to be wished that as much as is intended to be commonly known could be published in as striking away and with as great an appearance of authority as may be consistant3 with propriety.

I have taken the liberty to trouble you with this hint, as sometimes things the most obvious escape attention—if you agree with me in sentiment, you will easily fall upon the most proper mode for answering the purpose.4 With very great esteem & regard I am Dr Sir Yr Most Obedt Sert

Go: Washington

ALS, NNC; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW wrote “(Private)” on the cover of the ALS. On the draft manuscript, which is in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, GW inserted the dateline and made a change in the wording of the text (see n.1).

1At this place on the draft manuscript, Hamilton wrote “though circulated without reserve in conversation.” GW then struck out the word “though” and inserted the phrase: “(such parts of it I mean as are.”

2GW apparently is referring to the European intelligence that he communicated in his letter to George Clinton of 6 March concerning possible Spanish entry into the war against Britain and rumors of developments favorable to the United States in other European nations (see also GW to Henry Laurens, 17 Feb., and GW to Lafayette, 8–10 March).

3At this place on the draft, Hamilton wrote and struck out the phrases “as possible” and “as could be done” before writing “as may be consistent” above the line.

4Jay replied to this letter on 3 March.

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